Poor Mental Health in Adolescence Precursor of Rapid Aging

Dr. Terrie E. Moffitt to deliver upcoming Hinckley Lecture

The 18th annual lecture of the Marjorie Pay Hinckley Endowed Chair in Social Work and the Social Sciences is titled, “Surprises About Mental Health Revealed by Following 1,000 People for Decades.” Terrie E. Moffitt, professor of Social Development at King’s College in London and the Nannerl O. Keohane University Professor of Psychology at Duke University will present her research on Thursday, Feb. 3 at 7:30 p.m. in the Hinckley Center Assembly Hall.

Moffitt serves is associate director for the Dunedin Multidisciplinary Health and Development Study in New Zealand, a longitudinal study that has followed a birth cohort of 1,000 participants for nearly 50 years. This study has an unheard of retention rate with 94% of the remaining living subjects still participating.

The latest research from this longitudinal study explores the link between mental health in young people and faster biological aging, the likelihood that the majority of people will struggle with mental health at some point in their life and the value of holistic psychological treatment.

By tracking the life histories of study participants, Moffitt discovered that those who were diagnosed with mental disorders as adolescents also aged quickly. According to biomarkers of physical health, these people aged twice as fast as normal while those with good mental health in their youth showed very little aging.

Moffitt also recognized that over 800 of the 1,000 study participants met the diagnostic criteria for a mental health problem at least once in their now 50 years of life. “If you follow people long enough, almost everybody will have some brush with mental health issues. There’s no room for stigma,” says Moffit.

Many study participants also suffered from a variety of mental health issues throughout their lives. Moffit recommends that mental healthcare providers shift their focus from working through a single diagnosis at a time to doing more to encourage healthy lifestyle skills. This approach can potentially prevent the snowball of other mental health issues in the future and help people enjoy healthier, longer lives overall. “Don’t just treat the one thing that’s wrong today but give them skills they can use to stay healthy the rest of their lives,” says Moffitt.

The lecture is free and open to public. Per university event guidelines, attendees should wear a mask and must provide proof of vaccination or a negative COVID-19 test. More information is available at https://hinckleychair.byu.edu/2022-hinckley-lecture.

The lecture will be recorded and available for online viewing at a later date.

Does Violent Media Desensitize You? Yes, Says Dr. Brad Bushman, Hinckley Presenter

This post is tenth in a series of videos available in our new BYU Social Sciences YouTube channel! The channel contains tidbits of many of our most popular lectures and useful, succinct, research-backed advice on relationship, political, religious, media, and financial issues. Follow us there to stay up-to-date on wisdom that will help you and  your family live better lives.

Does violent media desensitize you? According to Dr. Brad Bushman, a 2014 Hinckley presenter, it does. In research that he conducted where he examined the brain waves of video game players of both the violent and non-violent types and then showed them neutral images (such as mushrooms), negative images (such as a dead dog or a child with a birth defect), and violent images (such as a man with a gun being pushed down his throat), he found that those who played violent video games were less shocked by the violent images than those who played non-violent video games. He said, “They’ve become numb to violent images. They’re not shocking anymore.”

Bushman received his Bachelor’s in Psychology from Weber State in 1984 and holds an MEd in Secondary Education from Utah State University (1985), Masters in Psychology and Statistics from the University of Missouri (1987 and 1990 respectively), and a Doctorate in Social Psychology from the same school in 1989. He is the Rinehart Chair of Mass Communication at Ohio State University and teaches both psychology and communication classes. The professor has been featured in media such as BBC, NPR, and the New York Times.

As we mentioned in previous posts about his lecture on the subjects of measuring aggression in teenage boys and other effects of violent media, Dr. Bushman acknowledges that adults have the right to choose what media they consume, but he advocates making these effects on children known. Realizing that some of his findings are unpopular with mainstream channels, Bushman challenges popular conceptions by taking painstaking efforts to design his studies in accordance with the scientific method. His studies have been published in prestigious scientific journals. He has testified in the U.S. Congress on topics related to youth violence and aggression, and has served as a member of President Obama’s committee on gun violence.

The Marjorie Pay Hinckley Chair was created to strengthen, understand, and research families as well as create strategies to bolster families through challenges such as learning disabilities and single parenting.

Since this topic can be controversial, we encourage viewers to watch the full lecture and the Q&A session that follows for a more complete look at these findings.

“You Never Murdered Anyone? BIG DEAL,” Says Dr. Brad Bushman.

This post is eighth in a series of videos available in our new BYU Social Sciences YouTube channel! The channel contains tidbits of many of our most popular lectures and useful, succinct, research-backed advice on relationship, political, religious, media, and financial issues. Follow us there to stay up-to-date on wisdom that will help you and  your family live better lives.

Most parents aren’t worried about violent video games turning their children into killers, said Frank Bushman, a 2014 Hinckley presenter. They’re worried about how violent video games affect their relationships with others. They ask: “How do these games affect how they treat me? How do they affect how they treat their siblings, their peers, and others? How do they affect how they see the world? How do they affect how they see women? But there are other effects of violent media beside whether you’re going to kill somebody.

If a person has played violent video games and have never killed anyone, they’re just like the majority of Americans. According the U.S. Census, the population was 308,745,538 in 2010. That same year, the FBI estimated that 14,748 people were murdered. That’s only .0048% of the population. With such a small percentage of murders, nearly everyone can boast that they’ve never killed anyone. And yet people use the phrase “I’ve never killed anyone!” to justify their violent games.


Bushman focuses his research on the positive and negative effects of different media content. He received his Bachelor’s in Psychology from Weber State in 1984 and holds an M.Ed in Secondary Education from Utah State University (1985), and Masters in Psychology and Statistics from the University of Missouri (1987 and 1990 respectively), and a Doctorate in Social Psychology from the same school in 1989. He has the Rinehart Chair of Mass Communication at Ohio State University and teaches both psychology and communication classes. The professor has been featured in media such as BBC, NPR, and the New York Times.

While acknowledging adults’ rights to choose what media they consume, he is an advocate for making these effects on children known. Realizing that some of his findings are unpopular with mainstream channels, Bushman challenges popular conceptions by taking painstaking efforts to design his studies in accordance with the scientific method. His studies have been published in prestigious scientific journals. He has testified in the U.S. Congress on topics related to youth violence and aggression, and has served as a member of President Obama’s committee on gun violence.

The Marjorie Pay Hinckley Chair was created to strengthen, understand, and research families as well as create strategies to bolster families through challenges such as learning disabilities, “social development,” and single parenting.

Since this topic can be controversial, we encourage viewers to watch the full lecture and the Q&A session that follows for a more complete look at these findings.